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One size fits all dressage saddle?

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    One size fits all dressage saddle?

    I have 18 horses. Those that are rideable i'm taking through my weekly dressage lessons off-farm. I am hoping one or more of my equines will eventually choose this discipline and i will be able to pursue. Until such time, some of my equines are young, some are old, they are all different breeds and sizes. I have a bunch of saddles, most of which aren't very expensive that i bought used. I have a variety of english saddles, a couple of endurance saddles, and some old heavy (though pretty) western saddles. I travel my various horses to the lesson with the english/endurance saddle that best fits him/her. So far i'm only rotating two horses through the lessons, (just started this summer) and it is a whole lot of fun! One of the two, a wide buckskin, i'm using will be dropping out and will be replaced with another candidate. He's learned a LOT, but doesn't have the natural gaits and with so many i'm not going to try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Anyway, back to saddles... What i'm looking for is a general-purpose dressage saddle that is going to fit the majority of my horses. Do they come with interchangeable bars (like some english saddles do)? Should i get a largish one and try to pad up to make fit my horses that are not-so-wide? Or, Is there a schooling type of saddle that's not too expensive that i could buy two or three sizes of? Or should i just shop around and try to find a variety of different sizes used....? The problem with all of that of course is that for some odd reason, dressage saddles are about 10 times more expensive (new or used) than english/western/endurance are! Need advice please.
    Consistency, Insistency, Persistency

    #2
    This is simply just not possible if you are serious about wanting your horse and yourself to be comfortable and be able to do the job.

    Your saddle should fit your horse, and you. Unless you have horses who are the same size, this is a fantasy that can never become reality. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    I would get the horses you are riding professionally fit and go from there. You can get deals on some nice older saddles like Passiers, Prestige, Kieffer, etc for under $500.

    Comment


      #3
      Check out Ansur Saddlery. It is built on a flex core technology. The Excel is the dressage model. They they are made in the USA.

      https://ansursaddle.com/build_your_saddle/Excel

      Comment

        Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
        This is simply just not possible if you are serious about wanting your horse and yourself to be comfortable and be able to do the job.

        Your saddle should fit your horse, and you. Unless you have horses who are the same size, this is a fantasy that can never become reality. Sorry to burst your bubble.

        I would get the horses you are riding professionally fit and go from there. You can get deals on some nice older saddles like Passiers, Prestige, Kieffer, etc for under $500.
        oh, only 500? That's not too bad. I could get two and pad for a basic comfortable fit. I can ride in any saddle, so it's more about what is right for them. and, It's just for an hour once a week...
        Consistency, Insistency, Persistency

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by eightpondfarm View Post

          oh, only 500? That's not too bad. I could get two and pad for a basic comfortable fit. I can ride in any saddle, so it's more about what is right for them. and, It's just for an hour once a week...
          Are you only riding once a week? Regardless saddle fit is one of the most if not the most important part of your riding.

          But yes there are plenty of good older or lower end dressage saddles out there in the $300-$500 range.

          Comment


            #6
            There are saddles with adjustable trees (Wintec, Thorowgood, etc.) but they aren't meant to be changed on a daily basis as you work horses. The general shape of the tree front to back and side to side also needs to be right for your horse, since the adjustable part is only the width in front.

            Comment


              #7
              The only saddle I know of that seems to be fully adjustable with panels and a tree that should, theoretically, fit all/most horses is Aviar's Rook. But that is $$$$. I haven't sat in one yet, but they literally only have the one saddle, so if the seat doesn't work for you as a rider, you're still SOL. Also, as joiedevie99 said about the Wintecs, etc., I'm not sure it's designed to be changed on a regular basis between horses. I feel like it is probably mostly designed to be changed as your horse changes shape, but you'd have to check with the company.
              In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by eightpondfarm View Post
                I have 18 horses. Those that are rideable i'm taking through my weekly dressage lessons off-farm. I am hoping one or more of my equines will eventually choose this discipline and i will be able to pursue. Until such time, some of my equines are young, some are old, they are all different breeds and sizes. I have a bunch of saddles, most of which aren't very expensive that i bought used. I have a variety of english saddles, a couple of endurance saddles, and some old heavy (though pretty) western saddles. I travel my various horses to the lesson with the english/endurance saddle that best fits him/her. So far i'm only rotating two horses through the lessons, (just started this summer) and it is a whole lot of fun! One of the two, a wide buckskin, i'm using will be dropping out and will be replaced with another candidate. He's learned a LOT, but doesn't have the natural gaits and with so many i'm not going to try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Anyway, back to saddles... What i'm looking for is a general-purpose dressage saddle that is going to fit the majority of my horses. Do they come with interchangeable bars (like some english saddles do)? Should i get a largish one and try to pad up to make fit my horses that are not-so-wide? Or, Is there a schooling type of saddle that's not too expensive that i could buy two or three sizes of? Or should i just shop around and try to find a variety of different sizes used....? The problem with all of that of course is that for some odd reason, dressage saddles are about 10 times more expensive (new or used) than english/western/endurance are! Need advice please.
                You can't pad up an English saddle like you can a Western saddle without running into balance problems.

                If you are learning dressage it isn't so important to have a dressage saddle to start, but it is important to have a saddle that fits you and fits the horse, so you are not fighting the saddle.

                You might want to research basic English saddle fitting. The basic shape of the tree matters a lot, as measured by the front to back curve of the panels and the vertical drop of the panels. The wither gullet matters too, but is almost the easiest thing to pad up. So the low end saddles with switchable wither gullet plates really don't help as much as people think.

                You might also want to invest in a 6 slot sheepskin shim pad, a gel riser, etc as needed.

                Realize also that any English saddle you buy needs to be reflocked periodically and also tweaked to the horse using it. If you can find an independent saddle fitter in your area, this will save you much frustration and potential sore backed and cranky horses.

                If you are doing lessons once a week, I would suggest continuing to use an endurance or Western saddle *if it fits the horse.* As I recall you have a number of green horses and recent mustangs, and the basic training at that level is not dependent on saddle shape.

                However if you are only riding a horse once a week or once every couple of weeks, progress is going to be slow. I would say any green horse benefits from at least four days of work per week.

                It's also easy to say at the start that you can ride in any saddle. When I returned to riding 13 years ago that felt true to me for years, in lessons and then leases, in borrowed saddles. Then I got my own saddles, dressage and then jump. It turns out I really do need an 18 inch seat, which is not the most common size. I've had my saddles fit to my horses. And over time I became a good enough rider that I can now tell if the saddle is interfering with my seat position.

                At the start, it was probably true that any given saddle wasn't the deciding factor in my position . Now I can tell if a saddle is making me tip forward or go into a chair seat. I tried riding in a saddle that was too small for me last year and got surprising new back aches.

                However my coach who is a much better and more versatile rider than I will ever be can maintain her position in any saddle, even one that causes her discomfort.

                So it's not just about whether you can balance and get a trail ride done in any saddle, but whether you can maintain optimum position on a given horse in that saddle. Because dressage is seated, the balance of the saddle for the rider really matters. In hunter jumper forward seat you post trot and get out of the tack alot, and chair seat can be functional especially with shorter stirrups.

                Western on the other hand is very pragmatic, but saddles vary a lot in where they put the rider. Some Western saddles put the riders leg right under them like dressage seat, others force the rider into a chair seat on their back pockets, through stirrup placement and seat shape.

                Ask your coach which saddles are putting you in the best position.








                Comment


                  #9
                  Pegasus Butterfly saddles at https://pegasusbutterflysaddles.com. They make saddles for jumping, dressage and endurance.

                  I no longer own horses, and I now ride at riding schools on horses of all shapes and sizes.

                  I got this saddle (I bought the Claudia jumping saddle) and the BOT/ThinLine Corrector II shimmable pad and have been able to ride around 6-10 different horses now. Big horses, little horses, tall ponies, narrow horses, wide horses and normal horses.

                  I recommend a six pocket shimmable pad with this saddle, it needs to be on a "flattish" surface. With the saddle pad I rode a horse with a severe sway back for over a year with no problems at all (with two ThinLIne bridging shims on each side), and I could use the same saddle on a horse with an almost flat back just by taking shims out of the pad.

                  Several of these saddles are somewhat cheaper than the Ansurs, they have a real if innovative saddle tree, and the horses have been rather forgiving of my mistakes with this saddle. It gives wonderful shoulder freedom which can be thrilling and, at the same time, cause the saddle to shift if not properly shimmed. This saddle adjusts to the front of the horse automatically, there are hinges on the front of the tree that let it adjust to the width of the horse without me having to fiddle with replacing gullets every time I switch horses.

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    I ride from 2 to 5 horses per day, depending on the rest of my workload. The horse currently in lessons gets probably 5 rides per week, but only one of those rides is with the coach. My coach likes me in my thorowgood saddle the best on the mare i'm in lessons with now.. And i've inserted the bar that fits this particular horse. Though at home, i alternate her between that that Thorowgood, an endurance saddle and a western one, all of which are a good fit for her. (Western: which i've just started learning how to ride upon after 50 years of riding!....riding western is like sitting on an overstuffed chair! there's a horse down there...somewhere, but really hard to feel). I really do have so many saddles that i can pretty much fit any of my horses with a good fit... depending on if we are working in the ring or going out on a trail ride. I just thought it would be nice to have a dressage saddle. or two. So i guess i'll start looking for some used ones just like i've done with my other saddles. And buy another 4x rack lol
                    Consistency, Insistency, Persistency

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I have a Solution treeless saddle. It is very traditional looking. You would need an assortment of pads or shim-able pads to level it for rider balance on different horses.

                      With that many horses, treeless may be the way to go?

                      Susan

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The Wintec synthetic dressage saddles are very inexpensive used, and can take different gullet plates. As someone else noted, they aren't meant to be changed out daily or anything like that, but offer adjustability as a horse improves topline and that kind of thing. The Isabell is quite a popular model, and I regularly see them for $450-500-ish. I have a wool flocked one that I use for young horses that come in and do a lot of growing/changing/muscling up before I buy them something custom. The balance is really quite decent and they hold up well.
                        **********
                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                        -PaulaEdwina

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Another vote for the Butterfly saddle. It's not always a perfect fit but you can make a lot of horses happier in it and feel comfortable and secure in your seat.
                          Treeless saddles, to me, always feel really awful. The butterfly has a tree, it just hinges to adapt to different horses.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            So, here is what I would do. Get a saddle fitter out and get a baseline for every horse. With a bit of creative padding you might be able to get away with half a dozen saddles or so if you are working with horses that have little muscle developing work up to this point. If you want them to be happy and comfortable in their work - they need a saddle that is at least close to what they need. In addition to this, horses that are correctly ridden in a dressage-ish frame will change shape as their back get muscle. you'll need to be very critical and proactive to keep them happy as you get them more work.

                            The one or two you are using all the time for dressage need a much more accurate fit for their saddles.

                            Were I you, I'd unload some of the saddles you have and do as I outlined above.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Nova2000 View Post
                              Check out Ansur Saddlery. It is built on a flex core technology. The Excel is the dressage model. They they are made in the USA.

                              https://ansursaddle.com/build_your_saddle/Excel
                              I had such a hard time riding in these because the twist is SO WIDE in my opinion.
                              Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by J-Lu View Post

                                I had such a hard time riding in these because the twist is SO WIDE in my opinion.
                                How long ago was that? They have changed A LOT.

                                Comment

                                  Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  My coach rarely makes suggestions when i'm having a class. I asked her why she doesn't critique my position, legs/arms/spine etc like i hear her do (always a running commentary when she's with other students) and she said that when she needs to say something she will. That i already know how to ride. So...i'm not trying to brag, i'm just trying to get a dressage saddle.... That Wintec Isabelle, it has a 'deep seat' with a chair-like back. For those of you who are trainers/good riders, do you find those high backs to be restrictive? I have a feeling i would feel movement, my movement, stifled with a high cantle (....like when i need to work on a green horse's hind engagement for example) ? Maybe i would get a big chair of a saddle (i'm little, so a 17 would be very roomy i think?). Are all dressage saddles built up like that in the back? are they all scooped down into a 'seat'?
                                  Consistency, Insistency, Persistency

                                  Comment

                                    Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Am researching the Pegasus Butterfly saddles right now. again with that big cantle.... i guess that's the thing about dressage saddles huh, big butt-stopper on the rear of the saddles. oh well, if i can adapt to a western, that won't be SO bad i guess. Maybe i'll start the green horses in something else, like a thorowgood or close contact sort of saddle. Then move them, if they seem to have talent, up into a real dressage saddle.

                                    edit: Hey, these look pretty good! Anyone have one they'd like to sell?
                                    Last edited by eightpondfarm; Oct. 5, 2020, 09:24 AM.
                                    Consistency, Insistency, Persistency

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      I check for the Pegasus Butterfly on Ebay occasionally, and there are often some dressage ones for sale.

                                      Understand though, these saddles free the horses' shoulders a lot. A horse that feels stuck in a pony walk or trot will start extending some, and with that shoulder freedom a lot more force gets transmitted to the rider's seat. As the horse gains confidence in the increased freedom of its shoulders they can start to grow "wings" and show a lot more impulse with a lot less leg.

                                      Also if a horse "drops" its shoulder it can be easy for the saddle to shift over on the horse's back (for reference I have absolutely lousy side-to-side balance from my MS, so it may happen to me more.)

                                      I really recommend using silicon full seat tight/breeches with these saddles. The extra shoulder freedom caused my seat to shift too much when I wore regular tights/breeches, once I got myself the silicon full seat tights a lot of my problems disappeared because my seat bones did not get shifted over in the saddle.

                                      I have two other jumping saddles sitting on my saddle rack. I will probably never use them again since I have gotten truly spoiled by not having to use as much leg to get the horse to stretch out its stride. If I ever lost my mind and decided to get a good dressage saddle the Pegasus Butterfly dressage saddle would be my first choice (I say losing my mind because my MS would really interfere with just about everything necessary to ride good competition dressage, and it just would not be fair to the poor horse.)

                                      Meanwhile I am happy and the horses I ride are MUCH happier with the shoulder freedom they get with the Pegasus Butterfly saddle. No saddle is perfect, but this saddle is the nearest thing I ever got to perfection considering that at times I can ride three different horses in a week, and by fiddling with the shims I can get the saddle to fit every one of them.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Nova2000 View Post

                                        How long ago was that? They have changed A LOT.
                                        Good to know, that was about 7 years ago and the saddle was older than that. Thanks for the info!
                                        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                                        Comment

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